Something rather delightful happened to me this week. I won a Kindle!
Yes, really. And do you know what the first thing I said was? “Blimey! But I never win anything!” Which is clearly not true, of course, as I had just won a Kindle. So it got me thinking about some of the sweeping generalisations I am prone to, and indeed a few others I hear bandied about from time to time. ***
Recognise any of the following?
“Young people these days…” “All politicians are dishonest…” “I always mess up interviews…” “Nobody round here ever tells you what’s going on…”
Need I go on? At the risk of making another sweeping generalisation, you can probably think of a few of your own.
If we were to pick apart any of these we would almost certainly find they are outrageously inaccurate. Here’s a real life example from my own past storehouse of favourite generalisations: “I always get a sore throat in February.” FACT: I had a sore throat during three Februaries in my entire life. That is, around 1.44% of them, albeit three years in a row. Still, far more accurate to say “know what? I’ve hardly ever had a sore throat in February! Fancy that!”
When we come to believe our favourite generalisations as undisputable truths they can start affecting the choices we make and the actions we take. If you are ‘never’ going to get that new job, why bother even applying for it? If ‘nobody ever’ listens to you, why bother piping up at all?
So next time you find yourself falling into Mrs Winn’s Generalisation Trap, pull yourself up sharp and ask yourself: “what are the FACTS about what I just said?” It’s really quite enlightening.
I’m off to enter a competition for an iPad 2 now. Well, you have to be in it to win it!
*** By the way, here’s a delicious irony for you. Pre-editing, this sentence read: “it got me thinking about some of the other generalisations we all make from time to time.” DOH!